This week on The Learning Curve, cohosts Cara and Gerard and guest host Patrick Wolf, distinguished professor of education policy at the University of Arkansas, mark National Catholic Schools Week with George Weigel, author of the international bestselling, two-volume biography of Pope St. John Paul II. They explore how Karol Wojtyła’s education, deep faith, and experiences during World War II shaped his life as a spiritual leader and led him to play a pivotal role in the fall of Communism in Poland and throughout Eastern Europe. Pope John Paul II’s popularity among the world’s youth, Weigel explains, was grounded in a spirituality that defied contemporary culture and challenged young people to seek the “greatness that the grace of God makes possible in your life.” The interview concludes with Mr. Weigel reading from his biography of Pope St. John Paul II.

Stories of the Week

Amidst fraught debates about what gender is, and how it fits into feminism, Annika sits down with Dr. Abigail Favale, an English professor specializing in gender studies and feminist literary criticism turned Catholic convert. Dr. Favale is now a professor and writer at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, and the author of “The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory.”

More about Dr. Favale: https://abigailfavale.wixsite.com/home

This week The Learning Curve podcast marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day with guest host Dr. Jay Greene of the Heritage Foundation and Laurence Rees, a former head of BBC TV History Programmes; founder, writer, and producer of the award-winning WW2History.com; and author of The Holocaust: A New History. Mr. Rees sheds light on the historical context of Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, including the rise of the cultural and political conditions that led to the Holocaust. Rees discusses how the Nazis promulgated their anti-Semitic ideology and laws, and underscores the criminal realities of the Auschwitz concentration and death camp, as well as the Holocaust’s six million Jewish victims. Rees also talks about the fragility of both human life and political and cultural institutions. Mr. Rees closes the interview with a reading from his book on the Holocaust.

Guest:

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Joe Biden is the whitest president ever. Take a look at the first minute or two of this video of Biden during the worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The song only has about two phrases that are repeated a hundred times, and he can’t sing them by the end of the song. He can’t […]

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That Day Is Today

 

“A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.'”

Those words were spoken 1,700 years ago by St. Anthony the Great. And I was reminded of them while reading this article at Crisis by Regis Nicoll:

This week on The Learning Curve co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson are joined by David Garrow, who was Professor of Law & History and Distinguished Faculty Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and is the Pulitzer-winning author of Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Garrow shares his insights into the historical and religious context around key events and speeches in the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He examines the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as well as King’s famous speeches, including the “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” Garrow discusses Dr. King’s legacy for students and educators, with reference to “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and other writings that evoke the theme of human dignity through history, poetry, scripture, and America’s Founding ideals.

Stories of the Week: A new Boston monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King has stirred controversy. Concerned about students’ ability to cheat with the use of advanced artificial intelligence, some higher education and K-12 officials want to ban it outright. Gerard reflects on a young Dr. King’s emphasis on the need for thinking intensively and critically, for the goals of living a good life and workplace success.

Spirituality Is for Wusses

 

Today it’s fashionable for a person to say he is spiritual but not religious. That comment is intended to suggest that the person is above the primitive practices he assumes religious people follow. Only superior people wear the mantle of spirituality, rather than taking on the dogma and rituals of ancient religions.

Only no one really knows what it means to be spiritual. And perhaps, no one cares.

What kind of person is our education system designed to create? Best-selling author and award-winning essayist William Deresiewicz discusses the failures of our higher education system, how it mis-conditions our elite, and fails to value the humanities, as well as his latest collection of essays, “The End of Solitude.”

Sign up for our event with Bill via Zoom in 1 week! https://jmp.princeton.edu/events/college-kids-are-not-ok-and-what-do-about-it-conversation-william-deresiewicz-end-solitude

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It appears that the Daily Wire has a new series called Exodus, by Jordan Peterson, joined by others including Dennis Prager and Jonathan Pageau.  It’s billed as a 16-part series, and it looks as if the first 8 episodes have been released.  It’s available here, though it’s behind the Daily Wire paywall, so I haven’t […]

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Join Jim and Greg as they start the day with some encouraging news about Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin and his recovery from cardiac arrest. Then they welcome the news that lockstep liberal Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan will not run for re-election in 2024 and discuss what that open race might look like. They also discuss Day 3 of the stalemate over who will be the next Speaker of the House and point out that some opponents of Kevin McCarthy have principled reasons for withholding support while others just seem to enjoy the political theater. Finally, they sigh as incoming California Rep. Robert Garcia plans to be sworn in on a copy of the first-ever issue of the Superman comic book.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Professor Roosevelt Montás, Director of the Freedom and Citizenship Program at Columbia University, and author of the book, Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation. Professor Montás shares his background as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who attended Columbia, and what inspired his appreciation for the Great Books tradition. He explains the deep connection between philosophy, liberal learning, and a good life, why this tradition matters for advancing liberal education, and its implications for K-12 students in a world that is increasingly centered on technical skills, and that has become overly politicized. They delve into lessons from works like Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, about how literature and art can ennoble our young people and elevate our democratic ideals. Professor Montás concludes with a reading from his book.

Stories of the Week: Chronic absenteeism, or missing more than 10 percent of the school year, has likely increased dramatically since the pandemic, and can lead to increases in school-related stress, social isolation, and decreased motivation, all of which contribute to behavior problems. Veterans Affairs officials will now receive greater authority to adjust funding for housing, work-study programs and other education benefits for students relying on the GI Bill, after the COVID-era shift to online-only classes prompted stipend reductions and emergency legislation.

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Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was one of over 60,000 people that paid their respects to Pope Benedict XVI. There will be one more day for those that wish to pay their respects to Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican has invited the Italian government as well the German government to his funeral. All other nations […]

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G-d, Interrupted

 

Over a lifetime, I’ve met lots of people who wonder why G-d “lets us suffer.” Or why G-d lets perfectly innocent people, especially children, die from catastrophic illnesses. Or why G-d lets bad things happen to good people.

I think these people are asking the wrong questions, and they are looking for help to come from the wrong source. I’ve also heard the comment that G-d doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and I think this belief doesn’t frame people’s struggles in a way that helps and empowers them, or strengthens their relationship with G-d.

I was inspired to think over these kinds of issues in reading a piece this weekend written by the late Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, where he discusses how Joseph was able to reconcile with his brothers, where instead he could have felt bitter and rejected by how they had treated him. Rabbi Sacks suggests that a factor for Joseph might have been his reframing his situation, realizing that G-d had a role that He wanted Joseph to play. I would also add from my own perspective that although many things happened to Joseph that he couldn’t control, he also had free will to make many constructive choices, which is the very special gift that we are all blessed with.

Pope Benedict XVI, Requiescat In Pace

 

Pope Benedict XVI has passed away in his 95th year. From Catholic World Report:

Joseph Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927, Holy Saturday, in the Bavarian town of Marktl am Inn. His parents, Joseph and Maria, raised him in the Catholic faith. His father — a member of a traditional Bavarian family of farmers — served as a police officer. Joseph senior was, however, such a fierce opponent of the Nazis that the family had to relocate to Traunstein, a small town on the Austrian border.

Joseph and his older siblings, Georg and Maria, thus grew up during the rise of the Nazis in Germany, which he would later call “a sinister regime” that “banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good.” He was conscripted into the military’s auxiliary anti-aircraft service in the final months of World War II, deserted, and spent a brief time in an American prisoner-of-war camp.

More year-end awards today!  Jim and Greg embark on the second half of their six-episode saga known as the 2022 Three Martini Lunch Awards. Today, they offer up their selections for the best political idea, worst political idea, and boldest political tactics for the year. Their selections range from the campaign trail to the halls of Congress to the biggest land war in Europe in more than 75 years.

Christ Is Born!

 

The Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem. The star marks the spot where Jesus Christ was born. It is part of the Church of the Nativity, built by the Roman emperor Constantine in 326 AD.

Behold a new and wondrous mystery.

My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

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Merry Christmas! I have sent this out for a number of years and it appears especially timely as we see the end of this troubled year about some of which Mr. Royster seemed most prescient when he wrote this a few years after the final days of WWII. According to an online publication, here, “Vermont Connecticut Royster was the […]

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Filling Up Prophecy

 

Something kinda weird happens in the aftermath of the Christmas story.  Here’s Matthew 2:15. (All quotes in the ESV.)

This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

A prophecy was fulfilled; it hadn’t been fulfilled until that moment in history, and now it was fulfilled.  Seems straightforward enough, right?